Tag Archives: Asahi news

U.S. Experts Challenge Abe View of ‘Comfort Women’

Four U.S. experts have weighed in on the debate over whether erroneous reporting by the Asahi newspaper over “comfort women”–women forced to serve Japanese soldiers at wartime brothels–damaged Japan’s international reputation.

The experts said now-discredited testimony by a Japanese man named Seiji Yoshida, who said he had helped abduct Korean women for sexual slavery, didn’t influence U.S. views of the issue. In August, Asahi withdrew articles from the 1980s and 1990s that had cited the testimony.

The four experts–Dennis Halpin of John Hopkins University, Mindy Kotler of Asia Policy Point, Mike Mochizuki of George Washington University and Larry Niksch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies–were involved in drafting a 2007 resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution said Japan “should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery.”

Some politicians and conservative media outlets in Japan have said that if it weren’t for the Asahi’s mistaken reporting, international criticism of Tokyo over the comfort-women issue might have been less harsh. The 2007 resolution added to the political hardship of Shinzo Abe during his short-lived first term as prime minister.

Mr. Abe, who returned as prime minister in December 2012, said last week that he intended to uphold Tokyo’s past apology to victims of the military’s forced sexual service, but he repeated his recent criticism of Asahi’s reporting.

“It is true that erroneous reporting that Japan as a nation was involved in forced sex slavery has damaged our honor around the world,” Mr. Abe said at parliament Friday. “We need to continue stating facts persistently.”

The U.S. experts said the prime minister was overestimating Asahi’s role. A careful look at the facts, they said, “will refute the view of the Japanese history revisionists and the Abe Administration that the Yoshida memoir, as reported by the Asahi Shimbun, colored all understanding of the comfort women tragedy.” They added, “We are further troubled that the Abe Administration appears to adhere to this view.”

The experts’ statement was first published in the Nelson Report, a Washington newsletter on East Asian affairs. It focused on a Sept. 11 full-page article in the Mainichi Shimbun, another liberal-leaning Japanese daily. Mainichi said briefing materials prepared for members of Congress before the 2007 resolution cited the Yoshida memoir.

The U.S. experts said Mainichi interviewed them but didn’t reflect their view that the Yoshida memoir and Asahi’s reporting weren’t factors in the drafting or defense of the House resolution.

A Mainichi spokesman said the company planned more coverage of the topic. That coverage will reflect its reporters’ conversations with the Washington experts, he said.

By Wall Street Journal


Seoul to present ‘comfort women’ issue at manga festival in France


SEOUL–At the initiative of the South Korean government, a special exhibition devoted to the painful “comfort women” issue will feature at one of Europe’s leading manga festivals that gets under way this month.

More than 20 manga and anime works depicting the ordeal these women faced will go on display at the Angouleme festival in France.

“Comfort women” is a euphemism for women forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.

Many of the women were from the Korean Peninsula, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945.

“We expect the works to help a wider range of people become aware of the tragedy of comfort women and the seriousness of wartime sexual violence,” said Cho Yoon-sun, minister of gender equality and family, in announcing the decision Jan. 14. “We hope they will move the hearts of people around the world.”

The manga and anime works, all created by South Korean artists, will be exhibited under the theme of “Flowers that never fade.” The festival will start Jan. 30 and continue through Feb. 2.

Working with Amnesty International, Seoul is determined to have Japan come to terms with this festering sore in their shared history.

The problem is complicated because Tokyo says the issue was resolved under a bilateral agreement on rights to compensation claims that was signed when the two countries normalized their diplomatic relations in 1965.

At President Park Geun-hye’s initiative, the South Korean government late last year opened the first government-led exhibition themed on comfort women in Seoul to urge Japan to make aggressive efforts to “settle” the issue.